Tests for prostatitis

There are a number of tests which can be used to find out whether you have prostatitis. It can take some time to get a diagnosis - the symptoms of prostatitis can be similar to other problems such as urine infections, which can make it difficult to diagnose.

On the following page we'll talk about some of the tests you may have.

Tests for chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS)

There is no single test to diagnose CPPS. Your doctor will need to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms before they make a diagnosis. This can take some time.

You might be diagnosed with CPPS if you’ve had some of the symptoms listed above for more than three of the last six months. But your doctor may diagnose CPPS sooner than this.

They will ask you about your symptoms or give you a questionnaire to fill in. Your doctor may also ask about your medical history. This can help them work out what is causing your symptoms, and which treatments are most likely to help.

You’ll need to have a urine test to make sure you don’t have a urine infection. You may also have a physical examination, including a digital rectal examination (DRE), and some other tests, such as a PSA test. Ask your doctor for more information about other tests you may have. For some tests, you might need to visit a doctor at the hospital who specialises in urinary problems (a urologist) or a specialist nurse.

Worried about having a DRE?

It’s natural to feel worried or embarrassed about having tests, but some men find the idea of having a DRE upsetting. For example, if you’ve ever been sexually abused, you might feel very upset about having this test.

There’s no right or wrong way to feel, and it’s your choice whether or not to have a DRE. If you do decide to have a DRE, explain your situation to your doctor. They can talk you through the test and help to reassure you. It may also help to talk to a counsellor.

Tests for acute bacterial prostatitis

You’ll need to have a urine test so the doctor can check for bacteria and other signs of infection. You might also need a blood test. You might have a digital rectal examination  to see if your prostate is inflamed and painful, and the doctor may examine your stomach area (abdomen) and penis. You might also be offered an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan or an ultrasound scan to check if you have a prostate abscess.

Tests for chronic bacterial prostatitis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and any similar problems you’ve had before. This is because chronic bacterial prostatitis tends to affect people who’ve had infections in the past. They will then try to rule out other problems that could be causing your symptoms. For example, they’ll ask you to have a urine test to make sure you don’t have a urine infection. They may also do some further tests – ask your doctor for more information about these.

Tests for asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis

There are usually no symptoms for this type of prostatitis. It is usually picked up by chance when you're having tests for other conditions, such as prostate cancer.

Prostatitis and PSA

Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by the prostate. A PSA test is a simple blood test that measures the amount of PSA in your blood.

You might be offered a PSA test if your GP is checking for other possible prostate problems, such as an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer. You may want to ask your doctor why the test is being done and what will happen if your PSA is raised.

It’s normal for all men to have a small amount of PSA in their blood and the amount naturally rises as you get older. But a raised PSA level can be a sign of a problem with your prostate, such as an enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, or prostatitis. If your PSA level is raised, you may need more tests to find out what’s causing it.

If your GP thinks you may have another prostate problem they will avoid testing your PSA while you have prostatitis symptoms. This is because prostatitis can raise your PSA level and may make the results less reliable. Your GP may wait until any symptoms have settled down before testing your PSA again. Read more about the PSA test.

Am I more likely to get prostate cancer if I have prostatitis?

There is some research to suggest that men with inflammation in their prostate might be more likely to get prostate cancer. But not all men with symptoms of prostatitis have inflammation in their prostate. We need more research to know for sure if prostatitis is linked to prostate cancer, as other studies haven’t found a link or are very small. If you have prostatitis and you’re worried about getting prostate cancer, talk to your GP or hospital doctor or speak to our Specialist Nurses.

References

Last updated: July 2019 | To be reviewed: July 2022

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